Rublev’s Umag Breakthrough: ‘I Have No Words’
Andrey Rublev’s ATP Tour breakthrough almost ended before the main draw of the 2017 Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag began. Hungarian Attila Balazs beat the 19-year-old in straight sets in the final round of qualifying.
But Borna Coric withdrew, Rublev entered the main draw as a lucky loser and he never looked back. The Russian beat fourth seed Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 6-2 in the final for his first tour-level title.
“I have no words to explain it, especially after this tough week,” said Rublev. “Now I’m here and it’s amazing.”
It capped a dream week for the teen, who had defeated third seed and defending champion Fabio Fognini in the quarter-finals and home hope Ivan Dodig in the last four to reach his first ATP Tour final. Rublev was the seventh lucky loser to win a tour-level title and the first to do so since Rajeev Ram triumphed at 2009 Newport.
“I lost in the qualies, which should have been bad for me. Now I’ve won this tournament and everything is perfect,” Rublev said. “You can win one day and lose the next day. You can lose and you can win. The main thing for me is to do my best every day.”
Rublev tried to maintain the same routine throughout the week. He always sat in the front seat of the tournament transportation, for example.
“My coach was wearing the same t-shirt, my t-shirt, for the past three days. During the day, I would always go back to my hotel room. All these little things I was trying to do the same,” Rublev said. “The past three days were really tough mentally. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t talk normally. There was so much stress, it was really tough. I’m really happy that it’s over and I won the tournament.”
When Rublev was a kid, he watched the world’s best tennis players compete on television, battling for trophies. He wanted to be in that position.
“I’ve won my first ATP title and it’s amazing,” Rublev said. “Now it’s time to work and to try to do it again.”
The Russian didn’t let the big win change his mentality. He was excited to lift the trophy, but aware that there was plenty of work to do.
“I have no goals,” Rublev said. “I just want to do my best, to improve on the things I need to improve on and that’s it.”
Rublev was the No. 74 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings that week. Three years later, the Russian is World No. 14 and he owns four ATP Tour titles.